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From Central Asia: “Why are you so happy?”

“Why are you so happy?” When I sat at the table in the midst of laughter, food and conversation, I had no idea this question would come up, but I’m glad it did.

We met Ali while on a YWAM mission trip to Central Asia as part of our School of Ministry Development. We were partnering with an English learning center that reached out to Muslim students like Ali. He was a happy, energetic guy and we became friends pretty quickly. We met with him a couple of times and dinner sounded like a great way of spending time with Ali so we invited him over. To our surprise he asked us to come to his apartment instead so he could make dinner for us. Our new friend turned out to be a great cook and we certainly enjoyed the food. We sat together as the conversation went from one topic to another, and then came the question.

Before knowing Jesus, I tried to find happiness in many things that left me empty.

Ali had commented a few times during dinner about how joyful we seemed, but now he was looking at us with this question in his eyes, waiting for an answer: “Why are you so happy?” With excitement, I began to share with him about the One who is the source and reason of our deep joy. I told Ali my story and how, before knowing Jesus, I used to try to find happiness in so many different things that always left me empty and hopeless. He then opened his heart and shared the places where he had been looking for his own happiness.

The conversation changed directions after a while, but that night we left his house praying that our words would have a lasting impact and that God would keep working in his heart.

A few days later, we bumped into Ali again. As we talked about the dinner and how much fun we’d had, he said he had enjoyed it, too. Then he told us that after we left, he and his friends had stayed up for hours talking about everything we had shared about Jesus.

“My life is truly different now.”